My review of Rush's 2112/Moving Pictures classic albums DVD
When Rush were approached with doing the BBC's Classic Album series the likely question on their collective minds was "Well which one do we do? 2112 or Moving Pictures?" Then somewhere in this discussion meeting some fan friendly A&R guy goes "We don't we do both?" And doing both would be great...
...if it wasn't two albums squeezed into the 1 hour program barely making time to dig a little bit deeper than the hits. But then I suppose the problem lies in "well why the hell do Rush get to do two albums when far more legendary bands like The Who and Pink Floyd only get to do one?" Point taken, but in my opinion this two-in-one experiment on the part of whoever was in charge of this project misses the mark. It would have been better just to get the full [moving] picture of one album rather than two half stories most hardcore fans have already heard. Then it comes down to choosing one. The clear answer here is Moving Pictures.
It needs to be said, 2112 is not that good. There are flaws on there that do warrant the use of the skip button. I think everyone can all agree that it was the presence of the 20 minute title track, and not the album itself, that spoke to people and sold like gangbusters. Hell Rush could have just released that one song and they probably would have won their commercial success just the same. But are you really hearing anyone who isn't an insane Rush fan talking about how awesome Tears is?
Let's break it down track by track. The title track- arguably the best thing the band ever did and absolutely essential to this work. Without this song there is no album. Period. A Passage To Bangkok trails very far behind (not because its a bad song, but because the title track is so far ahead of the race nothing is going to come close to it) in second place, and Something For Nothing trails very close behind that. The last listenable number on here is Twilight Zone, and that's on a good day. Lessons and Tears are completely unremarkable, and while creative experimentation is creative experimentation, the fact of the matter is Rush were at their best when they were being a metal band (when they admit it or not). "What the hell is this acoustic rock shit, I want more riffs!" was likely uttered by many a disgruntled teenager at the time coming off of Twlight Zone. I don't think anyone will deny the importance of 2112 in Rush's history and music history, but as an album, it will always be a 7/10. Alot of their albums were like that, and they never did quite put out a 10/10 studio album. I think one unsung reason as to why Rush are so great to see/hear live is that you get to hear all the classics back to back. No Tears, no Different Strings, and no Rivendells. And honestly, its not as if the album has much of a story to tell to begin with. Did we really need to be told that Twilight Zone is about the show of the same name? Something For Nothing, also pretty self explanatory lyrically, thought it was interesting to hear Alex talking about how the intro was written on a 12 string...too bad that part is on the damn bonus feature section. Furthermore, if you don't know the damn story (both in narrative and the trying times for the band coming into it) about 2112 by heart at this point, you probably shouldn't be watching a documentary about the band to begin with. Granted the only thing that I didn't know about this album was that Passage To Bangkok was about toking the sticky (Don't you be looking at me like I'm dense, I seriously thought it was about an innocent train ride. Shit, Red Barchetta is about innocent car ride What was Fly By Night supposed to be a hidden allegory for snorting yayo off of hooker's ass?). Ok, so yes these things are made for both casual and hardcore fans, but the thing is nobody wants to hear the stories behind Lessons or Tears. And judging from how little the band plays those songs live, it seems as if they've take an active part in trying to forget them. Thus, the stories that would need to be told for 2112 would only take up about 35 or so minutes. Moving Pictures on the other hand, would undoubtedly have enough info for the alloted hour with just enough leftover for the bonus interviews.
Thus making the Moving Pictures section of the story all the more heartbreaking. Not because the information of what were told is trite, but what additional information we're missing out on. Like how Lifeson came up with that heavy-as-fuck riff for Witch Hunt. Or how the hell Neil came up with scientific nerdism after scientific nerdism to describe the feeling that everyone needs a break once in a while with Vital Signs. And Camera Eye, the single most demanded song to be in the live Rush repertoire in the past 15 years or so. Certainly such a song, not to mention the bands very last epic deserves a nice 5 minute explanation, no? And for fucks sake, can't somebody ask Kirk Hammett to explain the Welcome Home (Tom Saywer) debacle? I mean Metallica thank Alex, Geddy, and Neil in Master of Puppets's credits, so there is some unspoken bond between the two parties of some sort that is ripe for discovery.
This package is also a bit of a victim of timing. Quite a few of the people who appear here also appear on the bands earlier released movie Beyond The Lighted Stage. I mean they don't all say the exact same things as they did there (good thing too, Taylor Hawkins's impersonation of Rush Geeks hit way too close to home in BTLS), but there is a slight feeling of "oh yea...this again."
All in all, Classic Albums: 2112 and Moving Pictures is an novel experiment that ultimately fails what it tries to accomplish for its own series, but its still essential for Rush fans, casual and hardcore. Just don't expect to dig too deep into the hemispheres. (Now THAT would have made an AWESOME classic albums episode.)
He's like "yo give me yo insurance information!" and I'm like "I didn't hit you with no car, I hit you with this mack truck I call a fist!"